Saturday, 19 February 2011

Taking care of your digital camera

Taken from The Sun newspaper 6/12/10
Digital cameras get a lot of use. But with heavy use comes a greater likelihood that your camera will be damaged, lost or - if you’re travelling - even stolen.
To assure a long life for your digital camera, take these precautions against mishap and misfortune.
  • Get insurance
Digital cameras are not exactly inexpensive. Some digital SLRs (dSLRs), in fact, cost several times more than their film-based counterparts of a decade ago. That’s why taking out insurance on your digital camera can be some of the smartest money you spend on your equipment, especially if you’ve opted for a high-priced dSLR, lenses and accessories.
Camera insurance policies don’t have to be expensive. The premium – as with home, car or other kinds of insurance – will vary depending upon the value of the equipment you’re insuring.
Your best insurance policies, in fact, may come from the same company that insures your home or car. Make sure you get a no-fault policy that covers damage due to accidents as well as loss due to theft.
  • Keep lenses clean
Your camera’s lens should be kept free of dust, dirt and smudges. Otherwise you’ll end up with splotchy images at best and a camera that has difficulty focusing at worst.
Your camera or camera lens probably came with a lens cap. Use it.
To deal with the dust or smudges that will inevitably find their way to your camera’s lens – regardless of lens cap – you can take a number of approaches.
One method is to use a clean, soft brush, such as an artist’s brush, to remove simple dust.
To remove smudges, use a lens cleaning cloth and solution, which you’ll find at any photographic store. There are some specialty lens cleaning products as well that are worth looking into.
  • Sensor care
The critical light-gathering chip in a digital camera – called the sensor – can and does attract dust particles when exposed to air, which is what happens when DSLR owners change lenses.
Those dust particles show up on digital images as dark spots, potentially marring images or making them a chore to clean up in photo software afterwards.
To address the dust issue, you have to do one of two things: periodically clean the dust off the sensor yourself or send the camera to the manufacturer’s service centre to have the cleaning done professionally.
If you’re a DSLR user, you should buy a bulb blower, which is basically a hand-holdable rubber bulb that you squeeze to expel bursts of air directed at your sensor. You can find these at any photographic store or online.
If you have a compact digital camera or one of the newer DSLRs with automatic sensor cleaning, you’re in luck. You probably won’t have to worry about dust – or cleaning it.
  • Keeping it covered
Most digital cameras can be ruined by water, so you’ll want to keep yours out of the rain, unless you know the camera has ‘weather sealing’ that protects it.
Still, even with weather sealing – often available only on higher-end DSLRs – temperature extremes, especially cold weather, can cause cameras to malfunction.
The solution: a protective bag or pouch for your camera when it’s not in use. Consider a belt pack for adequate protection and maximum mobility while retaining easy access.
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